People I love

Hello, people I love. Here is a little Miss Fish to cosmically kiss.

Miss Fish, sun, happy.
Last night was very difficult. For reasons I think we still don’t understand, the US elected Donald Trump.

It was a dark night of the soul for everyone who cares about kindness, fairness, about the example we set for our children, about the future of our planet, the value of the dollar, the value of intelligence, about the rights of women and minorities. The boorish pigs of the world feel vindicated, and people we know and love are going to have serious problems with health insurance, deportation, and the damage to their retirement accounts. We must care for each other as best as we can. What can we do?

We can be strong and kind, and help further good work and good people. I can create places of refuge and sanctuary where work can continue on the things that will really and truly turn our ship: for me, the top two are clean power and clean water.

I’m deeply hurt by the votes of the American people. It’s hard to forgive such ugliness. But I’m the same person today that I was yesterday, and I’m ready and willing to help lead the way to a genuinely different game and story- one that’s global, not political or national, and one that isn’t driven by the exploitation of the planet, people or animals.

So right now, let’s identify what can be sheltered from the coming storm, and get busy protecting it as best as we can. There is a great deal that I can do, actually; I’m fortunate to have already been moving in these directions, including setting up mechanisms to do work outside of the systems.

Breathe, and keep your love moving: this bad time will indeed bring hard changes, but change is a lever open to all. Perhaps this time if we keep our heads, we (the people of the world, not the voters of America) can make a different story arc out of the same old setup.


I love you, and nothing can change that, and you must do the best you can with the hand you are dealt. Me, I am going to get directly back to work, trying to make things better. I’m here for you if you need me.

cranes memorial MIT

Until we meet again

Remembering Gwen; a post from the past on the anniversary of her death in 2013.

Kate McKinnon

My beloved friend Gwen Gibson passed away yesterday.  She was at home, surrounded by people who loved her, peaceful, accepting. As these things go, it was ideal.

Gwen in the kitchen at La Cascade

Gwen, in the kitchen of La Cascade, Durfort, France

I met Gwen when I went for the first time to the South of France and stayed in her lovely old house in the town of Durfort. The house is named La Cascade, and this is the street. The water down the center of the road is the old quench stream for the metalsmiths who created the copperwork that Durfort was famous for.


To quote Gwen, about how it came to be that she should own a house in the South of France,

“An appetite for fresh experience and the need to keep moving take me places I would never have imagined beforehand. Because I find the unknown tempting, I’m often drawn to projects…

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spheres of activity

It’s been fantastic to have Henry Segerman (OSU, mathematics and mathematical art) in town. He brought his Ricoh Theta spherical camera, and we loved it. Getting one of my own will really improve my ability to make searchable records of inaccessible sites; these huge images are zoomable, flyable, beautiful records of location. Not only that, if you record a talk with one, you can get the whole room.

Spherical Henry on MIT54 June 2016

If you had the stereo image, and the Ricoh Theta viewer, you could fly around this one, taken by Henry off of the edge of MIT54.

I have a couple of days to myself this weekend to get things in order for about 20 guests (scientists, engineers, and artists) and this is nuts but it’s going to be beautiful. We have three apartments, an auditorium, and a lot of energy. I’ll keep you posted.

Forward Motion at MIT

Work on practical ideas to take the Green Building at MIT energy-zero (and to do it beautifully) is rocketing forward. We should hear this month as to whether or not we’ve made the next wave of the Fuller Challenge; and if we have, we will be pleased to conduct our team interviews with our hard hats on, as we’ve already begun the work.

Arriving in about a week are a steady stream of engineers, students, artists and scientists, including senior program managers from Sandia Labs, Lockheed Martin, the Army and Navy science offices, NASA, DARPA and UTEP. Next week, before they all come in, our job is to gather as much data as we can on our site, our building, and its energy needs and usage.

Pei skyscraper at MIT.jpg

As you can see, the blank river side of the building is ripe for 20 slender stories of wind-eating. One of our most exciting teams (involving engineers from the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and wind artist Ned Kahn) is dreaming up a wall of delicate turbines, something that blends seamlessly with the structure and generates big power.

The Pei is a historical building, so anything we propose for it must make sense architecturally and be almost transparent visually; this is an intriguing challenge and our success with that will determine our chances of approval. Frankly, only the boldest and most astonishing ideas stand a chance, and conveniently that’s exactly what we plan to deliver.

The idea of using beauty like these installations to generate power is compelling.

The principles of spontaneous cooperation are holding solid for our group. People who want to work with us know it immediately, and those who aren’t involved in the work seem to also know that intuitively. It’s interesting; I’ve never seen such a clear middle before. We experience the usual sort of pushback on a daily basis (this is unavoidable when you are working with disruptive ideas) but none of it seems particularly real or solid.

MIT has been extremely generous with access and support, and in addition to an access pass for the EAPS building (and the roof) the registrar’s office has given us full use of the gorgeous, vintage auditorium in the Green (below) and their Drama department has given us enough furnishings, costumes and props to turn both the auditorium and the empty palace we’ve heisted for our students (photo of the entry at the end of this post) into warm spaces.

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Although it’s unlikely that we would need a 250-seat auditorium for our own meeting space (our working group will rarely be more than 25 people) the setting will be perfect for filming interviews, talks, and for filling the blackboards with morphing lists of topics, tasks, and daily schedules. More soon.

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Camera Obscura Santa Monica

Momentum is the thing.

I study it, I try to maintain it. I figure that if I always keep moving I always have a store of it to draw on; I have something to convert to whatever might suddenly be required to keep a ship afloat, an idea alive, plates spinning, my trains on track.

Unbelievably, summer is here and I am on my way back to MIT. I seem to be slotting myself into their system between terms; there is no real reason for this except that I fit better. There is less competition for lecture halls, a smaller quotient of frenzy in the corridors. I’m doing a lot of different things there, but the first is architecture, the second is a gathering. If you are curious,  you can read an update here.

MIT Planetary Building.jpg

The tall building circled above is one of my first targets. It was built by I.M. Pei (as were many buildings on the MIT campus) and it’s problematic, iconic. Its problems come from the wind, which is insane off of the river. Maybe wind is easy to solve these days; a bit of aero kung-fu and what was once a problem can become a food source.

I am intensely interested in the wind at the edges of things. It’s ridgy, blade-like, and really really fast.

On the Roof IV by Josh

As ever and always, though, the real fact of the matter is that I want to play with the roof. I love it up there, and the structures are badly in need of maintenance, some are no longer safe to climb. Our engineering team is strong in fabrication, and I have taken a mania to replace the radomes (the big white radar balls, the largest one seen in the photo above) on the roof with 3D-printed wonders, gorgeous glorious things.

Of course I also want to take that big old radome off and put it on the roof of the Cambridge 7 (they are game for this) and use it as my own office, treehouse, lurk space. I want to broadcast messages from it if I feel like it, or have a pirate radio station. I want to live in it like a billboard, sleep in it like a nest, make a porthole in it to see the sky. I want to float it so it spins. I want to be assumed into it, like an old-school assumption into heaven.

It’s basically just a fiberglass Tuff-Shed on a stick, and it looks like this inside, as you may know if you have followed my various Roof Adventures. Currently it’s stuffed with old radar equipment.

radar ball header

Inside The Ball low res

Sometimes the light is orange, sometimes golden, sometimes bright red inside. It’s all about the time of day, the quality of the daylight. My Roof Dreams may not happen for me, true, but if not it won’t be for lack of effort. Anyway, ANY excuse to get up on the roof of 54 is a good one.


I could say so much more; it seems that everything in my life is in flux. I have deep wells of feeling about it all, and yet my energy is spoken for. I am unsure as to how to comport myself in written form beyond crafting the two books on the way to the press for the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork project. That work alone is enough to occupy anyone; to add in a discussion of my circumstances or feelings seems impossible.

For the time being, though, all I can do is keep moving forward and doing my very best at fulfilling each task I have devised, breathed life into, and committed my energy to completing. There is nothing in my life or on my dish (as Riccardo DiSalva says) that I did not create or ask to be born.

So for now, I am head-down, working, and in that is everything; and everything must be enough. But I can see a time that is open, like the light streaming through an oculus, and I am moving toward it.

Oculus 2 MIT Chapel

a wave of metalwork is coming…

I’m on my way to Tucson soon for the last Seed Bead Summit before the publication of the upcoming Pattern Book for the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork project. In the last few months, I’ve been gathering material, illustrations, ideas and examples into a glittering pile, and we’re ready for the final push to the press.

I’ve decided to make some metal components to go with the beadwork (this is always a desire of mine, and I rarely take time to fulfill it) and while I am doing that, I am going to make another series of rings and chains. YES. RINGS AND CHAINS. I just have a few categories up in the Shop now, but as I’m sure of what I am making, I will add more.


joined fine silver chain

Some of the rings are going to be skyscraper and Dali Summerhome rings, and some meditation bowls, and those are the ones that cost the most to make, so I’m taking orders for those. I’ll make 24 skyscrapers and 24 meditation bowls. Would you like one? If so, please order it now, or send me an email asking me to reserve one for you.

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For the chains, I’ll do a variety; sculpted, invisibly cut and joined, fused, forged… I’ll have a variety to choose from. What they will all have in common is pure fine silver, no solder, and a hand-forged clasp. I think I’ll make a dozen… there might be more, but I can’t promise –  if you want a chain, please let me know now.

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sculpted chain

I appreciate your support of these pieces, as their sale will fund the exploration of the new clasps and connection elements that will accompany the Pattern Book to the press. I can’t wait to show my new ideas for closures and morphing captures.

Goldberg Skyscrapers, fine silver, Kate McKinnon

To see piles of photos of metalwork I’ve made, just Google “Kate McKinnon Chains” (or substitute rings, metal, clasps or beads for the word “chains”). I’m going to make a little of everything, and especially toggle bars. I miss my toggle bars, don’t you? No one seems to do them quite like me.

And yes, of course there will be earrings. How could there not be?
Delivery May 15 for all the metal.
hugs! and thanks for your support.


Dapped earrings by kate mckinnon, fine silver, 2010

meditation bowl earrings

excellent fine silver and sterling earrings, kate mckinnon 2010

pinned bowl earrings